How to Clean Mold in Bathrooms

The most effective methods to clean mold in bathrooms.

Mold is a fungus that can live anywhere where there are moisture, warmth and nutrition. There are many species of mold, but only a few are toxic to humans. Due to the optimal conditions a bathroom provides, it’s a very common area to find mold growth.

Considering the potential health effects of mold, we like to keep our homes free from it. But how do you clean mold in bathrooms? To effectively remove it, you have to kill it and then prevent new mold from growing.

How to Make a Mold-Busting Solution

There are many things you can use to clean mold, but not everything will kill it. As we mentioned above, if you want to get rid of mold for good, you must kill and prevent it from recurring. Here are a few homemade solutions that work effectively at removing mold:

Borax and Water

Borax is a natural fungicide and is, therefore, excellent for fighting off mold (1). It’s a white powder often used in laundry and to clean other areas of a home. You can easily find borax in the laundry section at your local supermarket.

Start by combining one cup of borax with one gallon of water. Then give it a good mix until the powder is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle.

Not only will borax kill and remove mold, but it will also prevent new growth. For this reason, you don’t need to rinse the solution off once you’re done. However, if it’s very dirty, rinse the area and apply some more once you’re done.

Keep In Mind

Although borax is natural and doesn’t release any toxic fumes, you must still be careful. Keep the solution far away from children since it’s dangerous if consumed (2).


Vinegar is one of our go-to cleaning solutions for every area of our home. It’s affordable, efficient and non-toxic — perfect for parents and pet owners.

Keep the vinegar undiluted for the best results. Simply fill a spray bottle with vinegar and apply directly onto the moldy area.

Take Note

Vinegar can have a strong, unpleasant scent. You can improve it by adding lemon essential oils or lemon juice to the vinegar. However, the smell will go away as the vinegar dries out.


Bleach is one of the most effective ways to kill mold. However, we like to use it as a last resort due to the toxicity of the substance.

Bleach is toxic and can cause eye, skin and lung irritation. You must keep the area clear from children and pets and the room well-ventilated. Always wear protective gear such as gloves and preferably a mask and goggles (3).

You can create a mold-killing solution using one part bleach to 10 parts water. Mix it in a spray bottle for easy application. Spray directly onto the moldy area and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If the area is closed off from pets and children, leave the bleach for as long as possible.


Ammonia is another substance often used to remove mold. However, you should never mix bleach and ammonia as it will create toxic fumes. Avoid using ammonia after bleach (or vice versa) even if you’ve rinsed the area thoroughly (4).
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Removing Mold From Shower

The shower is a prime spot for mold growth; the often moist and humid space provides precisely what mold needs to grow. There are many areas within the shower where you might discover mold. These include the drain, grout lines and caulk.

1. Select Your Mold-Killing Solution

We highly recommend that you choose one of the solutions we mentioned above. Inspect the shower area to know where the mold is hiding.

Check the drain, grout and caulk — consider how much mold is present. If it’s only a small amount, use a milder solution such as vinegar. However, if the mold is more severe, consider using bleach or borax.

2. Apply the Solution

Spray the solution directly onto the moldy area. We also like to spray the area around it to ensure all spores and traces are killed as well. If you’re using bleach, make sure you follow the safety precautions we mentioned above.

Allow your solution to sit on the moldy area for 10 to 15 minutes — less if using bleach (five to 10 minutes).

For the Caulk: Shower caulk is a little more tricky to clean than other parts of the shower. For this, we like to make a paste of baking soda and bleach.

Start by adding a generous amount of baking soda to a container. Slowly add bleach until it forms a paste. Then apply the paste to the moldy area and cover with plastic wrap. It might be tricky, but do what you can.

Leave the paste on the mold for up to two hours. Remove the plastic and scrub with a brush. Rinse the area well, and if there’s still mold, repeat the process.

3. Scrub

Use a stiff nylon brush to scrub the mold off. It should be loose and easy to remove. We recommend using a grout brush for smaller areas or an old toothbrush.

4. Rinse

Use the showerhead to rinse off the mold and solution. The area should now be mold-free and clean.

However, if you still see traces of mold, repeat the process. If you used a milder solution, such as vinegar, and the mold is still present, try bleach instead.

Removing Mold From Shower Curtain

You might feel like your shower curtains are beyond repair when discovering mold; however, you can save them. Here’s how to clean shower curtains:

Method 1: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Start by removing your shower curtain and place it in the washer along with some soiled bath towels. The towels will prevent the curtain from crinkling, but they will also help to scrub the shower curtains.

Add your normal laundry detergent to the machine along with half a cup of baking soda. Start the machine as you normally would, but when it gets to the rinse cycle, add half a cup of vinegar.

Allow the machine to finish. Then once it’s done, hang the curtain to dry — preferably in the sun as UV rays also kill mold.

Method 2: Bleach

Start by making a solution of half a cup of bleach and a quarter of a cup of laundry detergent in a bucket. Fill the bucket with water and put it aside.

Remove the shower curtain and place it in the washing machine along with two soiled towels. Start the regular cycle and add the bleach solution once the machine is full of water. Adding the solution when the machine is empty will increase the chances of damaging the towels.

Once the washing machine is finished, hang the curtain out to dry.

Take Note

If there’s still mold present, consider repeating the process. However, large curtains may be difficult to wash properly in a machine since there are many creases where the mold is hiding. So consider laying the curtain out on a flat surface and scrub the mold off using a brush.

Removing Mold From Bathtub

Soap scum, grime, bacteria and dead skin cells are often gathered at the bottom of a bathtub. This creates the optimal conditions for mold to grow since it’s provided with an abundance of nutrients and moisture.

But bathing in a moldy bathtub isn’t ideal, so we’re here to remove it. For the bathtub, we like to use borax because you can leave it in the tub until the next time you use it.

1. Apply

Apply the borax and water solution using a spray bottle. Make sure you’re covering all the mold — pay close attention to the edges where the wall meets the tub. The drain might also have a significant amount of mold.

Allow the borax to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Scrub

Because we’re working on a bathtub, we need to be careful not to scratch the surface. Avoid using stiff brushes or other abrasive tools such as steel wool. We recommend opting for a soft-bristled brush or a two-sided sponge.

3. Rinse

If there’s a lot of mold, rinse the area after scrubbing. Consider reapplying the borax solution and leaving it in the tub until it dries. This will help to kill any leftover mold or spores.

Removing Mold From the Bathroom Walls and Floor

Most homeowners have tiles installed in the bathroom. These may be ceramic, porcelain or even natural stone. No matter which floors or walls you have in your bathroom, mold is a possibility.

You’ll most likely find mold growing in the grout lines since this is a porous surface — unless it’s sealed. Mold can begin to grow within unsealed grout and it will often leave nasty stains behind.

We have a few effective methods you can try out, but before you do, start with the following steps:

1. Scrape

Start by scraping off as much of the mold as you can. This will make your work easier and less messy. You can also use a stiff brush to scrub the mold away.

2. Steam

If you have a steam cleaner, use it before applying any cleaning solution. Attach a small brush, such as the one for grout lines. Steam the moldy areas thoroughly to kill and remove the mold.

A steam cleaner will deliver steam at extremely high temperatures (around 200 degrees Fahrenheit). This will effectively kill actively growing mold and spores. The steam will also effectively penetrate the grout, removing embedded mold.

Keep In Mind

If your grout is sealed, the steam might remove the sealant. Be prepared to reseal your grout afterward.

3. Wipe

Use an old towel or cloth to wipe the entire area since there will be loose mold lying around.

If there’s still mold present, try one of the following methods:

Method 1: Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild form of bleach. It works effectively at removing mold stains on colored grout and tiles where chlorine bleach might damage the surfaces.

Use the hydrogen peroxide undiluted by pouring it into a dark spray bottle. You can also attach a spray applicator to the hydrogen peroxide bottle itself. Remember that hydrogen peroxide will lose its potency when exposed to light. Therefore, it should be kept in a dark-colored container.

Allow the hydrogen peroxide to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing the area with a brush. Rinse well with water and wipe to dry.

Method 2: OxiClean

OxiClean contains oxygen bleach and is effective at removing mold and stains. Oxygen bleach is also preferred if you have a septic system as it’s less harmful to the environment.

Fill a spray bottle three-quarters of the way with water and add one or two tablespoons of oxygen bleach or OxiClean. Give it a good shake to combine well.

Apply the solution directly onto the molded area and leave it for 10 to 12 minutes. Scrub with a stiff brush and rinse well — finish off by wiping the area with a cloth.

Method 3: Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent natural option when cleaning mold from walls, floors and grout. For this method, we’ll make a paste using equal amounts of baking soda and water. The paste will be thick enough to stick to a vertical surface.

Apply the paste using an old toothbrush or your fingers. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes, then scrub with a toothbrush or a grout brush. Rinse with water to remove excess paste.

Method 4: Chlorine Bleach

If you still see stains from the mold or the stains are severe from the beginning, try chlorine bleach. Make the same solution as we mentioned earlier — one part bleach to 10 parts water.

Apply it to the entire area and allow it 10 minutes to work. Then use a stiff brush to scrub.

If the stains are still there, try to soak a few paper towels in bleach and apply it to the area. This might be difficult on a vertical surface, but it should stick. Allow it to sit until the stains have faded — rinse well to remove the bleach.

Keep in mind that bleach is toxic. So, keep the room well-ventilated. You should also wear gloves to protect your hands.

Do A Test

Before applying the bleach to your grout and tiles, do a small spot test in an inconspicuous area. Look for any signs of discoloration or damage.

Replacing Grout

If the mold has left stains that simply won’t be removed, it might be best to replace the grout. This doesn’t take long and you can even do it yourself.

Remove the old grout using a flat head screwdriver. You can buy grout from your local hardware store — mix it as directed and apply.

Sealing Grout

If you were successful at removing mold stains from the grout, consider sealing it to prevent new stains. You can do this yourself; grout sealants are available at any hardware store. We highly recommend that you seal new grout as well to keep moisture and mold out.

Removing Mold From Bathroom Ceiling

How you remove mold from your bathroom ceiling depends on the surface. If it’s a porous material like wood, drywall or popcorn, you’ll likely need to replace the moldy part.

Mold in the ceiling is often caused by poor ventilation or water leaks. If you have pipes in the ceiling, consider checking to see if there’s a leak. You must also ensure that your bathroom fan is working correctly.

If your ceiling is made of a non-porous material, you can try the following to remove the mold:

1. Prepare the Bathroom

Start by opening a window and turning the fan off. Protect yourself by wearing gloves, goggles and preferably a mask.

Use a step stool, chair or ladder to reach the ceiling. If the ceiling is painted, use a scraper to remove the paint from the molded area.

2. Mix a Solution

In a container, add two cups of hot water, a quarter of a cup of vinegar and two tablespoons of borax. Give it a good mix to dissolve the powder.

3. Apply

Dip a two-sided sponge in the solution and apply it to the area. Use the rough side to scrub the mold away. Have a clean, damp cloth at hand to rinse every once in a while.

Repeat the process until the mold is gone. You may need to replace the solution if it becomes dirty.

4. Reapply

When the area is clean and mold-free, spray the solution onto the entire area. Allow the borax and vinegar to dry on the ceiling; this will help to kill any leftover mold and spores.

5. Repair the Ceiling

When all mold is gone, sand the ceiling and repaint it. Use a waterproof mold-resistant paint to prevent mold and water damage in the future.

Creating a Mold-Free Bathroom

Discovering mold in the bathroom can be disheartening. Because there’s often a lot of moisture within the bathroom, it can be tricky to keep mold away. However, by keeping the bathroom well-ventilated and wiping the floor, shower and tub after cleaning, you can prevent mold.

We highly suggest that you try a milder method before reaching for bleach. Bleach might be useful, but things like borax, vinegar or baking soda are just as effective.

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About the Author

Matthew Sullivan

Matthew is a freelance writer with several years of experience in DIY and HVAC. For as long as he can remember, Matthew has always found great pleasure in taking things apart and learning how to put them back together.